, Volume 131, Issue 2, pp 599-606
Date: 07 Sep 2011

Changes in perceived attentional function in women following breast cancer surgery

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After treatment for breast cancer, many women experience cognitive problems, as determined by objective neuropsychological tests. However, the ecological validity of these tests has been questioned. This study explored the trajectory of perceived attentional function from before to 24 months after surgery in women with breast cancer and examined the effect of adjuvant treatment on this perceived attentional function. Women with breast cancer (N = 200) were assessed for perceived cognitive function by measuring attentional function using the attentional function index (AFI). Covariates included anxiety, depression, fatigue, and sleep disturbance. Perceived attentional function declined in 54% of women at 1 month after surgery. At 1 and 2 years after surgery, 41 and 30% of women, respectively, still perceived this decline. The mean AFI decreased to the lowest point 1 month after surgery, but improved gradually afterward, taking about 1 year to return to the pre-surgery level. Decreases in perceived attentional function were associated with increases in anxiety, depression, fatigue, and sleep disturbance. After controlling for baseline differences and covariates, mean AFI scores were not associated with adjuvant treatment. Perceived cognitive function deteriorated after surgery but improved over time. It was not associated with adjuvant cancer treatment.